At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Missoula County Public Schools Board of Trustees on Tuesday evening, one of the topics to be discussed will be the retrofitting of all Beach Transportation school buses with seat belts.

The agenda lists the issue as Item VII in New Business.

‘Topic: Seat Belts for School Buses (Information) – Mark Thane, Superintendent Background: The district initiated discussions with Beach Transportation to add seat belts to their buses. Seat belts are not currently required on school buses in Montana. School buses are generally considered to be a very safe means of transportation, and Beach has an excellent safety record of transporting our students. Still, recent accidents around the country and in Montana suggest that safety belts would save lives and reduce injuries. To that end, Administration intends to propose a plan to the board to add seat belts to buses this summer. It is likely that the district will be asked to pick up the bulk of the cost associated with this improvement, and the plan presented to the board will outline how that cost would be covered.’

MCPS Communications Director Hatton Littman said the recommendation is coming from the Superintendent and members of the district safety team.

“All buses that transport MCPS students include seat belts,” said Littman. “That retrofitting would have to occur this summer, and part of the proposal that gets presented tonight may also include the purchase of some new school buses and then a requirement for all new school buses moving forward to always be outfitted with three point harnesses for seat belts for students while they’re on the bus.”

Littman said the management at Beach Transportation understands the changes moving forward in the school bus industry and is ready to help get the project completed for the next school year.

“From the district’s perspective, I would describe them as being totally on board,” she said. “They understand that we are their primary client for school bus transportation services, and they want to meet our needs. That said, they are a business and the cost is significant. I can tell you that the one estimate I have in terms of cost is that the retrofit is predicted to be about $10,000 per bus.”

Other issues to be discussed at Tuesday evening’s meeting include approval of the Homevale buy sell agreement, and to approve advertising for the MCPS Superintendant search.